If there is anything more damaging than the initial triggering event that sends us into an intense emotional reaction, it is the belief that comes fast on its heals, whispering to us,”You are not capable, not prepared and not enough to handle this.” Most of us can get through the initial waves of fear anger or sadness that come in a crisis. The displacement is uncomfortable and disorienting, but eventually we find our footing again. The problem comes when we buy into the lie that we are unable to handle the situation we are in. Hopelessness, powerlessness and despair start setting in. When those take hold, it is a deep dark hole to climb out of.
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Unfortunately many of us were not taught as children that we have what it takes, risks are worth taking and that struggles and mistakes are opportunities in disguise.
If you are like me, you were taught to avoid discomfort at all costs. Every failure and embarrassment in our story just served to prove once again that risking is too risky and playing it safe is the way to go. So I learned to avoid things I didn’t know ahead of time that I would be good at. I learned to navigate around pain and discomfort instead of through it.
I did not develop the settled confidence that comes from failing enough to succeed. I never knew that I could be in the messiness of discomfort and still be okay.
In a time like this current crisis we are surviving, it is really easy to feel like we are failing or not enough. As Brene Brown says, “This is my first world-wide pandemic, how about you?” We are learning on the fly. We need to learn grace and adaptability.
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We learn we have perseverance only through persevering. We learn we have what it takes to get through by getting through. We learn that when we feel most vulnerable, exposed and messy there is a way through. My wife and I are teaching our kids: “What do we do when we make a mess?” And they have learned to respond, “We clean it up.” We tell them: “I can’t” is an unacceptable response even if the only thing you can do is ask for help. When they ask for help we say: “I will not do it for you but I will do it with you”. All of these things are designed to empower them when they feel incapable. If I do it for them I have taught them nothing. They are developing a learned response to feelings of discomfort, failure, confusion or incapability that says: “I know what to do when I feel these things.” This develops confidence, courage, resilience and self-trust. This way we learn that we can BE OKAY even when we don’t FEEL OKAY. There is an underlying and anchoring peace, even when there is a storm pulling us too and fro on the surface.
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There is no time like the present to learn. You have what it takes. You are smart, creative, courageous, resilient, powerful and have so much to offer! Many of these characteristics that are already inside of you can’t come to fruition if you don’t risk. There are moments that we feel forced out into the open. While I understand the resentment of these times, let’s not waste them. Let’s step into the arena and learn by experience that we are enough, we can clean up our messes, we can learn on the fly and fail enough to succeed.
-Learn something new.
-Try again for the tenth time.
-Go back to the drawing board.
-Do something you know you aren’t good at anyways.
-Ask for help.
-Give yourself grace.
-Laugh at your awkwardness.
-Smile at your honest attempts.
-Be kind in your failures.
-Be proud in your successes.
A note to mothers: You mothers have a special brand of courage. Thank you for being brave enough to fail and being willing to fail enough to succeed at loving and caring as much as you do! Remember, when you feel like you are failing, it means you are risking in the right direction, it is worth it… YOU are worth it. Happy Mother’s Day